Community builders know that getting any new community programming off to a strong start requires early adoption from members. The same can be said for community-led events programs. After planning, building, and launching a community-led events program, and onboarding your volunteer organizers to launch their chapters, the question remains, how soon after launch should a chapter host their first event?
In this blog post, we are looking to understand if a chapter becomes more successful if they host their first event within a certain period of time. To answer this question, the Bevy data team analyzed some anonymized data across a large number of community-led event communities. In this post, we’ll share some highlights from that analysis.
The data for this analysis was pulled on April 21, 2022 and includes data from all Bevy customers.
There are two main concepts we need to define when trying to understand this relationship: time to first event and success of a chapter.
Days to First Event: The number of days between the creation date of the chapter and the first non-test event.
This is the definition we used for “time to first event”. Another definition we considered was calculating days to the first event from the first chapter team member joining. However, chapter team member usage is not consistent across communities and some chapters hosted events before their first chapter team member joined. The definition using the chapter create date was the cleanest most consistently accurate definition when looking at the data.
Chapter Success: A chapter is considered successful in a month if they hosted an event within that month.
This definition was a little harder to land on since there are so many ways to define the success of a chapter. However this is a classic definition that is easy to understand and more normalized across communities of different sizes. Meaning the success criteria for metrics like event attendance or new chapter members will be wildly different for communities of different sizes. It is harder to know if a chapter who gained 10 new chapters members in a month is considered successful without greater context about the chapter and community.
This definition might also break down for some communities that don’t expect to host one event every 30 days. A community might consider a chapter successful if that chapter hosts an event every 60 days, or a community might host a large clustering of events over one week but they don’t host another cluster of events for several months. A more specific analysis could be conducted with specific community goals in mind. Without that information we used hosting one event every 30 days as the standard definition of chapter success.
For this analysis we wanted to understand how long it currently takes chapters to hold their first event. When looking at all chapters we can see that there is an extreme long tail distribution (Figure 1), meaning that most chapters held events soon but there are some chapters which took a very long time to host their first event, 5 years being the longest in our cleaned dataset. However, these chapters are outliers. Instead, 50% of chapters host their first event within 58 days of the chapters being created.
In order to better understand the majority of chapters Figure 2 below filters out chapters which took longer than a year to schedule their first event. Each bar below represents 30 days. There are roughly the same number of chapters who host their first event within the first 30 days and 30 to 60 days. Then roughly half as many chapters host their first event within 60 to 90 days. This will inform the cohorts that we create.
The cohorts follow similar bucketing to the last histogram we looked at, except creating larger cohorts on the long tail. We created 6 cohorts labeled cohort A-F. Figure 3 shows the size of each cohort created with the cohort definitions listed below.
A: 0 to 30 Days to Host First Event (26.3% Chapters)
B: 31 to 60 Days to Host First Event (25.3% Chapters)
C: 60 to 90 Days to Host First Event (14.9% Chapters)
D: 90 to 180 Days to Host First Event (18.1% Chapters)
E: 180 days to One Year to Host First Event (8.8% Chapters)
F: Over a Year to Host First Event (6.6% Chapters)
Now we must determine if one cohort of chapters is more successful than the other cohorts. Remember that we defined a chapter as being successful in a month if they hosted an event that month. We want to know if a higher proportion of chapters in one cohort is more successful than the other cohorts.
Deep breath while I explain Figure 4. This graph is a time series graph where the starting point for all chapters is the first event they hosted. The next point to the right on the graph represents what happened the next month after their first event. Let’s say a chapter hosted their first event on April 17th 2021, for success the next month we would look to see if they hosted an event between May 17th 2021 and June 16th 2021. This graph is normalized so that it doesn't matter if one chapter hosted their first event in 2017 and another hosted their first event in 2021.
On the Y axis we have the percent of each cohort which hosted an event in that month; this was normalized by chapter age. The 0 on this graph is 100% for all cohorts because by definition in the zeroth month all chapters hosted an event. Then the next month there is a sharp decline.
The chapters which performed best the next month after their first event are the chapters which hosted their first event within 30 days of the chapter being created, with 51.2% of these chapters hosting another event the next month. This is closely followed by the chapters which hosted their first event between 30 to 60 days, 44.8% of chapters in this cohort hosted an event the next month. The cohort which performed the worst was those chapters which took 180 days to one year to host their first event with only 19.0% of these chapters hosting an event the month after their first event.
Phew! Charts and graphs and data - oh my! After all that digging, here are the conclusions we are able to draw:
Chapters that host their first event within the first few months are more likely to continue hosting events month over month.
So to answer the question, how soon after launch should a chapter host their first event?
The recommendation is that new chapters try to hold their first event within 30 to 60 days of launching. The chapters which held events within 30 days were the most successful but chapters that held their first event between 30 to 60 days still had a lot of success.
Building a community-led events program can be overwhelming, but have no fear! The CMX Community is here to help.
We collected advice from seven incredible community professionals, from seven different companies, with very different business models and goals, and compiled it into one very (hopefully) helpful blog post. Check out Launching a Community-Led Events Program: Advice from Real CMs
Looking for a step-by-step guide? Check out the C2C Event Program Playbook course with CMX Academy! This course will take you through the necessary steps to get you and your program ready for launch day, and point out the potential pitfalls you’ll probably run into.
Ready to build your own program? Learn how to build a thriving community-led events program, and build, grow and scale your global community! Check out Bevy and book a demo today!